Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

The prisoner.

stone wall which the iron door had closed, the whole aspect of the room and of the prisoner was one which effectually removed my surprise that he should be treated with kindness and compassion. He was pale and haggard, and he trembled very exceedingly. He seemed exhausted by the agony of remorse and terror. A few hours before, his wife had been in the cell to bid him a final farewell, and the next day he was to be led forth to execution in the presence of thousands. In the mean time the walls, and floor, and roof of his cell-of continued, uninterrupted stone and iron. -seemed to say to him wherever he looked, "You shall not escape." It seemed as if the eye would have rested with a feeling of relief upon a board or a curtain, even if it concealed a stone behind,-with so forbidding and relentless a gripe did this dismal cell seem to hold its unhappy tenant. As I looked between the heavy iron bars of his grated

[graphic][merged small]

The Savior's sympathy.

Common distrust of it.

window upon the distant plains and hills, and thought how ardently he must wish that he were once more innocent and free, I forgot the cold-blooded brutality of the crime, and only mourned over the misery and ruin of the man.

The world does indeed ordinarily sympathize in some degree with a great criminal like this, in the remorse and anguish which he endures; but in general men are indignant with the offender if his crime is great, and they treat him with ridicule and scorn if it is small. Jesus Christ, however, pities a sinner. He loved us while we were yet in our sins; he came to save us. He came, not to inflict the punishment which our guilt deserved, but to redeem us from the sufferings into which it had brought us.

This is everywhere very apparent in his whole history. Often the greatest sinners came to him, and he never reproached them, when they came with a humble and penitent heart. He always endeavored to relieve them of their burden of guilt, and to give them assurance of pardon and peace. On one occasion, how kindly does he say to a very guilty sinner, "I do not condemn thee, go and sin no more.” Instead of intending to add to the burden of guilt which oppresses the sinner, by exhibiting coldly the contrast of his own bright example, or by his severe rebukes, he says, Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."

66

[ocr errors]

Persons who wish to be saved from sin, very often distrust the Savior's willingness to receive them. They acknowledge, in general terms, his kindness and compassion, and think that he is, in all ordinary cases, willing to save the chief of sinners; but they think there is something peculiar in their case, which should prevent them from coming to him in confidence. I have observed that this peculiarity is almost always one of two things:-1. That they do not engage ardently enough in the work of salvation; or, 2. That

Distrust of the Savior's sympathy.

they have often resolved before, and broken their resolutions.

Do not some of you, my readers, feel unwilling to come to the Savior, because you think that you do not feel a sufficient interest in the subject? You know that you are sinners, and wish to be free from sin. You would like such a friend as I describe the Savior to be, but you have no sufficiently strong conviction, and you think the promises are not for you.

you

Or perhaps some of you, though you feel a deep interest in the subject, may be discouraged and disheartened by the sins you find yourselves constantly committing, and by your repeatedly broken resolutions. You suppose that the Savior must be wearied out with your continued backslidings and sins, and you are ready to give up the contest, and to think that final holiness and peace is not for you.

Now, there are throughout our land vast multitudes who are vainly endeavoring to make their hearts better, in order to recommend themselves to their Savior's care. You must indeed endeavor by every effort to make your heart better, but not as a means of recommending yourself to the Savior. Come to him at once, just as you are, and seek his sympathy and assistance in the work.

Inquirers after the path of piety are very slow to learn that the Savior is the friend of sinners. They will not learn that he comes to help us while we are in our trials and diffiHow many say in

culties, not after we get out of them. their hearts, I must overcome this sin, or free myself from that temptation, and then I will come to the Savior. I must have clearer views of my own sins, or deeper penitence, or awaken true love to God in my heart, and then, but not till then, can I expect Christ to be my friend. What! do you suppose that it is the office of Jesus Christ to stand aloof from the struggling sinner until he has, by his own unaided

Illustration.

The case of the sick man.

Jesus Christ a physician.

strength, and without assistance or sympathy, finished the contest, and then only to come and offer his congratulations after the victory is won? Is this such a Savior as you imagine the Bible to describe?

At the door of one of the chambers of the house in which you reside, you hear, let us suppose, a moaning sound, as of one in distress. You enter hastily, and find a sick man writhing in pain, and struggling alone with his sufferings. As soon as you understand the case, you say to him,

"We must send for a physician immediately; there is one at the next door who will come in a moment."

[ocr errors]

O no," groans out the sufferer, "I am in no state to send for a physician. My head aches dreadfully-I am almost distracted with pain. I fear I am dangerously ill."

"Then you must have a physician immediately," you reply. "Run and call him," you say, turning to an attendant, ask him to come as soon as possible."

[ocr errors]

66

O stop! stop!" says the sick man, "wait till I get a little easier;-my breath is very short and my pulse very feeble, and besides I have been getting worse and worse every halfhour for some time, and I am afraid there is no hope for me. Wait a little while, and perhaps I may feel better, and then I will send for him."

You would turn after hearing such words, and say in a gentle voice to the attendant, "He is wandering in mind. Call the physician immediately."

Now Jesus Christ is a physician. He comes to heal your sins. If you wish to be healed, come to him at once, just as you are. The soul that waits for purer motives, or for a deeper sense of guilt, or for a stronger interest in the subject, before it comes to Christ, is a sick person waiting for health before he sends for a physician. Jesus Christ came to help you in obtaining these feelings, not to receive you after you have made yourself holy without him. You have, I well

Struggling with temptation.

know, great and arduous struggles to make with sin. Just as certainly as you attempt them alone, you will become discouraged and fail. Come to the Savior before you begin them, for I do assure you, you will need help.

One great object which our Savior had in view in remaining so long in the world, was to understand our temptations, and the contests which they bring up in the heart.

It is very often the case, that persons are struggling with temptations and sins almost in solitude, and those to whom they are directly accountable do not appreciate the circumstances in which they are placed, and the efforts which they make to overcome temptation. I presume that teachers very often censure their pupils with a severity which they would not use if they remembered distinctly the temptations and trials of their own childhood. Perhaps a little boy is placed on a seat near his intimate friend, and commanded upon pain of some very severe punishment not to whisper. He tries to refrain, and succeeds perhaps for half an hour in avoiding every temptation. At last some unexpected occurrence or some sudden thought darts into his mind,—his resolutions are forgotten, the presence of the master, the regulations of the school, and the special prohibition to him, all flit from his mind, and after the forbidden act, which occupied but an instant, is done, he immediately awakes to the consciousness of having disobeyed, and looks up just in time to see the stern eye of his teacher upon him speaking most distinctly of displeasure and of punishment. Now if any severe punishment should follow such a transgression, how disproportionate would it be to the guilt! The boy may indeed have done wrong, but how slight must the wrong be in the view of any one who could look into the heart, and estimate truly its moral movements in such a case! It is unquestionably true, and every wise teacher is fully aware of it, that in school discipline there is constant danger that the teacher will esti

« AnteriorContinuar »